Hawker Hurricane Mk.1 N2359/YB-J, ‘Winged Popeye’, RAF No.17 Sq
Responsible for destroying more enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain than the combined total of the rest of Britain’s defences, the Hawker Hurricane was the workhorse aircraft of Fighter Command’s deﬁant resistance against the Luftwaffe. A stable gun platform, the Hurricane was relatively simple to ﬂy and even easier to maintain and could be produced much quicker than the all-metal Spitﬁre, which was crucial as replacement aircraft would be needed in large numbers. Pilot Ofﬁcer Leonard Walter Stevens of No.17 Squadron received Hurricane N2359 as a replacement for an earlier aircraft damaged in combat with the Luftwaffe on 11th August 1940 and applied some rather elaborate artwork to the port side of his Hurricane. It was extremely unusual for RAF ﬁghters to carry any form of unauthorised artwork during the Battle of Britain, so the sight of a ‘Winged Popeye’ must have caused quite a stir around Debden airﬁeld, although they would have had more important matters at hand. Pilot Ofﬁcer Leonard W Stevens served with No.17 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain, only to be killed in a mid-air collision between two Spitﬁres in May 1941.